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With emergency shelters not yet open, cold temperatures a danger for people sleeping outside

Posted at 9:26 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 06:07:21-04

CINCINNATI — As Halloween night temperatures dropped rapidly, Maslow's Army took to their mobile warming center to aid people in Cincinnati experiencing homelessness, since winter emergency shelters haven't opened yet.

Thursday night's temperatures sparked a freeze warning for Cincinnati and it only got colder out while possible refuges for people experiencing homelessness began to close.

The mobile unit traveled the city picking up people huddled in blankets, leaving the public library as it closed and doing what they could to provide warmth to anyone who needed it on a night where many didn't have anywhere else to go.

"We were sleeping down on the riverbank," said Aaron, who, with his girlfriend, has been without housing for three months. "It was raining real bad yesterday. Got our tent set up down there."

He said between the wind and plummeting temperatures, the pair have been struggling to stay warm.

"Put on a bunch of layers, because I didn't know if we were going to be out here tonight, or what was going to happen," he said. "This is a blessing. I went to get a cigarette, saw the bus right here. She was in Taco Bell getting warm...I didn't know they were out here like this. It's a blessing."

The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, though not open to those struggling in the cold Thursday night, plans to open its doors as a cold shelter starting at 4:00 p.m. Friday. They said they'll be able to allow the first 32 people in for warmth and shelter.

Samuel Landis, executive director of Maslow's Army, said their organization has been taken by surprise by the recent cold snap too; they're not as stocked on coats and blankets as they normally plan to be.

"You have to do everything on the fly when it comes to emergency situations like this," said Landis. "We didn't prepare in advance."

Landis added that the organization hopes a church will be able to open its doors to those in need Thursday night, but in the meantime, the mobile warming center is doing its best to make the difference it can.

"The panic on the other end of the line," Landis said, referring to the slew of calls his organization received from Cincinnatians experiencing homelessness once the temperatures dropped. "Answering these calls, your heart breaks."

Those who want to donate to Maslow's Army can help by donating supplies, blankets and other resources the organization needs.